‘The Sports Bra’ fosters community by supporting women’s sports
The tried-and-true formula of big-screen TVs playing the biggest NFL or MLB games works for many sports fans, but as Jenny Nguyen says, it doesn’t work for all sports fans.
That’s why, when she started her own sports bar in Portland, she made it her mission to include a small but mighty change.
“We would have exactly what a sports bar is [does]all we would do is change the channel,” Nguyen said. “For me, it was like, okay, if all we do is change the channel, all we do is It’s taking a sports bar, swapping those two letters, and that’s how this idea was born that the smallest changes sometimes make the biggest difference.”
Nguyen opened the world’s first-ever sports bar showing women’s sports only, called The Sports Bra.
The idea took years to develop, starting as a fun idea between friends to overcome obstacles trying to watch women’s sports in your typical bar, feeling unsafe all the time, begging staff to activate a female game and watch those games on a quiet TV.
“I remember hugging a friend and saying, ‘This is the best game I’ve ever seen’ and she was like, ‘You know, it would have been so much better if the sound had been on. Nguyen said. . “Out of frustration, I said, ‘The only way for us to watch women’s sport in all its glory is to have our own place.'”
That moment was in 2018. In the years since, the fictional sports bra was just a joke among her group of friends.
“We’d have this fantastic place that we’d refer to, and we’d be like, ‘Oh, Sports Bra, you know, gymnastics would be going’ or, ‘Oh, Sports Bra, you know, they’d have gluten-free buns. for our burgers,” Nguyen said.
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In April 2022, The Sports Bra became a reality, with a welcoming environment for all sports-themed cocktails, like Title IX, and one relentless rule: women’s sports only.
“You know, we get calls all the time like…” Are you showing the Lakers game? “And you’re like, ‘Who are the Lakers?'” Nguyen said.
It was a gamble, but The Sports Bra was quickly a success. It’s part of a national pattern, as viewership of women’s sports is skyrocketing.
A Samba TV report released late last year gave insight into year-over-year viewership growth. March Madness 2022 female viewership increased 81% over last year, WNBA Finals increased 171% and National Women’s Soccer League Championship saw a 435% increase one year to the next.
Women’s sports also reach a younger audience. The report says 39% of Gen Z sports fans say they watch more women’s sports.
“With access to more content, people have more attention to things they don’t have. [before]be it through social media, through more streaming services or big network deals,” Nguyen said.
What cannot be calculated, however, is the community that is built and how the people who feel safe and seen congregate in this bar, growing the fanbase and growing the collaborations.
“When you don’t have to fight for it, when you don’t have to defend it and it’s open and welcome, it creates that freedom of energy to dream bigger,” Nguyen said. “It’s almost like a launchpad for possibilities. You can come here and you can see what’s happening right now. Now what’s next? Like, let’s dream bigger.”
Nguyen’s hope is that the success of The Sports Bra will inspire other places in the future and that his example of breaking the sporting status quo will inspire others to do the same.
“I just feel very, very optimistic about the future of women’s sport. It’s going to take a lot of work, but we’re all here for it,” she said.
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