Portland Oregon, Jenny Nguyen, and the First ‘Sports Bra’

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Courtesy of Foxparabola (Wikimedia CC0)

In 2019 Jenny Nguyen and her friends went to a sports bar to watch Baylor vs. Notre Dame in the Women’s NCAA Championship. “It ended up being just a spectacular game,” Nguyen told correspondent Luke Burbank.

However, there was no sound. The speakers were turned to a network broadcasting a men’s basketball game, although the women’s game has become known as one of the greatest collegiate games of all time. This gave Nguyen an idea.

Ever since Richard Nixon signed “Title IX” into law in 1972, the world was gifted with the opportunity to see great women athletes doing great things on the field, on the court, in the snow, and in the pool.

I loved all sports growing up in Los Angeles, and played the three American basics, baseball, basketball, and football. However, my favorite team today is the USA Women’s Soccer Team. In 2019 my most cherished birthday gift was their victory in the World Cup finals. That year, they were the best team I had ever seen in any sport

Watching “CBS Sunday Morning,” I learned about Nguyen’s idea and a dream which has become a reality. She opened a sports bar in Portland, Oregon, which is focused on women’s sports.

Courtesy of Jeremy Wilburn (Flickr CC0)

Many of her friends are athletes. While discussing her idea one evening, someone came up with a name for the bar. When she said the “Sports Bra” laughter erupted but realizing that switching the last to letters seemed clever, they all agreed it was the perfect label for a first of its kind.

When Nguyen revealed her plan to her mother, she did not receive the support she hoped for.

“I yelled at her and I said, ‘This is not good. With the COVID and labor shortage, it’s not going to work.’ But she told me, she said, ‘Mom, you cannot stop me. I am doing it,'” stated Nguyen’s mother.

And she did.

At the grand opening, not only did her friends, and her friend’s friends come, the entire neighborhood was there to celebrate the first of what may become many. Although Jenny’s dream was encumbered by a sluggish economy, a devastating pandemic, and a workforce in flux, she has succeeded beyond her dreams. When there are “big” games on the televisions, the line to get in stretches down the street.

I admit that I remain surprised that no one had the foresight to do this before. Women are part of everything in our society, and they continue to outnumber men, 51-49 percent.

Nguyen’s biggest challenge is the fact that only four percent of women’s sports are televised.

She said, “I’m asking a lot of networks, streaming services, and all of these things, questions that they’ve never encountered before. So, a lot of it is almost, like, taking your machete and cutting through the brush. It’s hard, and it’s a slog.”

Sports bars became a stereotype for the American male immediately, as the owners hoped women would accompany their husbands, boyfriends, etc. However, Nguyen saw the need and grabbed the opportunity. Now she’s hoping that the Sports Bra will not only entice women to enjoy women’s sports, but she is also hoping that some men will join the ladies they love and enjoy the ambiance of the first women’s sports bar in America.

Op-ed by James Turnage
Edited by Sheena Robertdson


Vogue: At the Sports Bra in Portland, Women Athletes (And Their Fans) Take Center Stage
CBS News: A sports bar of their own

Top and Featured Image by Foxparabola Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of Jeremy Wilburn’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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