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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SPU chapter.

This past weekend marked the final games of the NCAA March Madness tournament. If you’ve been following March Madness at all, you know that this year the hype surrounding the women’s tournament specifically has been off the charts. These elite college basketball teams have been smashing viewership records and selling out stadiums, proving that there is an audience invested in and entertained by women’s sports. This spike in popularity has been fueled by the star power of several incredible players. Caitlyn Clark has been at the forefront, surpassing record after record all season long, but she’s not the only one. Paige Buekers, the number one ranked recruit coming out of high school, returned from an ACL injury this year to play her best season yet. Juju Watkins broke the record for most points scored in a single season by a freshman. Audi Crooks dropped 40 points with 90% accuracy. Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso, Alissa Pili, Dyaisha Fair, the list of women turning heads and making an impact on their sport goes on and on. Celebrities like Jason Sudeikis, Ice Cube, Travis Scott, Shaquille O’Neil, Jalen Hurts, Billie Jean King, and Jake from State Farm have been vocal and present in support of these athletes and their teams. 

Women’s sports and the athletes who participate in them are notoriously underappreciated, but we may finally be starting to see credit where credit is due. This year’s March Madness tournament is an incredible step forward for women’s sports, and is part of a larger trend that has been happening nationwide over the last several years as more and more people flock to the stands and channels that feature women’s sports. There is a growing market here, and it’s finally being capitalized on. In cities across the nation, women’s sports are starting to infiltrate an overwhelmingly male dominated culture: the sports bar. And they’re not just playing in the background or switched off when the men start playing. 

A new type of sports bar, with women’s sports featured as the main attraction, is rapidly gaining popularity. Bars like A Bar of Their Own in Minneapolis, Watch Me! in Long Beach, Althea’s in New York City, and the Sports Bra in Portland are proving that people are hungry for safe and inclusive spaces to watch and enjoy women’s sports. Right here in Seattle, located in Ballard, we have our own such bar. 

Rough and Tumble Pub, with its 18 screens dedicated to women’s sports, has been thriving since its opening in 2022. I got the chance to check out Rough and Tumble for myself a couple weeks ago for the UCON vs USC NCAAW elite eight game, and I would recommend it to anyone. I got there towards the end of the Iowa vs LSU game, and the place was completely filled to its 255 person capacity. While it cleared out a bit after that game, there was still a sizable crowd who stayed or showed up for the UCON game. It was incredible to be in an environment like that, with so many people invested in these young, incredible, female athletes. The staff was welcoming, the service was fairly quick,  the drinks and snacks were delicious, and the games were playing at full volume. Not to mention, you don’t have to be 21 to get in if you’re not planning on sitting at the bar, making this space accessible to those who might be underage and otherwise unable to participate in a collective environment dedicated to any sport let alone predominantly women’s sports. Sports bar culture can often feel uncomfortable, inaccessible, or frustrating  to women or fans of teams or players that aren’t shown on screen even when they should be. Places like Rough and Tumble completely flip the script, fulfilling all the benefits of a sports bar (high energy, excitement, collective interest, drinks and snacks), without alienating any certain demographic. If you haven’t made it to Rough and Tumble yet, I would say it is a must for any Seattilite to stop by at least once. 

It’s a good time in history to be a fan of women’s sports, and if the momentum from the March Madness tournament carries beyond that, hopefully more spaces dedicated to this growing fan base will begin to pop up across the US. This growth has already started to go beyond TV’s in bars this year with the finalized construction of CPKC Stadium, the first stadium in the world built for a professional women’s team, the Kansas City Currents. People watch women’s sports. They root for women’s teams, pack stadiums for women’s games, fill bars that feature women’s sports, and recognise women’s talent when they see it. Don’t believe me? Check out Rough and Tumble to see for yourself.

I am currently a junior at Seattle Pacific University pursuing a double major in Sociology and Social Justice. I grew up in rural Colorado, but have found my home here on the west coast. This is my third year as a member of Her Campus, and my first year taking on a leadership role within the SPU chapter. I have also devoted my time to SPU's independent, student run newspaper creating social media content.