The Sport Marriage

Women Who Make It Work
Author: Steven M. Ortiz
Survival and sacrifice with the ultimate team players
Cloth – $110
Paper – $24.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 08/24/2020
Cloth: 08/24/2020
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About the Book

Steven M. Ortiz draws on studies he conducted over nearly three decades focusing on the marital realities confronted by women married to male professional athletes. Often portrayed in unflattering or unrealistic terms, these women face enormous challenges as they attempt to establish and maintain their marital and family lives while their husbands routinely prioritize their careers.Ortiz defines the traditional sport marriage as career dominated. He explains how women married to pro athletes are encouraged to contribute to their own subordination by adhering to an unwritten rulebook and using self-management strategies. They make invaluable contributions to their husbands’ careers while adjusting to public life and trying to maintain family privacy. At the same time, they manage power and control issues and cope with pervasive groupies, overinvolved mothers, a culture of infidelity, and husbands who prioritize team loyalty over all. Ortiz gives these historically silent women a voice, offering readers an in-depth analysis of and perceptive insight into what it means to be an athlete’s wife in the male-dominated world of professional sports.

About the Author

Steven M. Ortiz is an associate professor of sociology at Oregon State University.


"While athletes' own navigation of family life has received some attention, how does this arrangement affect their partners who are tasked with an array of visible and invisible labor to make their family work? This is the focus of Steven M. Ortiz's The Sport Marriage. . . . The Sport Marriage opens up many new avenues to interrogate the interweaving of gender, work, and family in the world of professional sports." --Symbolic Interaction


"In this keenly observed, empathic, and insightful work, Steven Ortiz recounts the inner experience of wives married to both a man and his sports career. Ortiz observes the precise order in which wives sit on the bench in the stadium, how they respond to affair-seeking groupies, to more senior sports wives, news of a sudden cross-country trade, an intrusive mother-in-law, a lasting head-injury. He explores the complex art of managing a backstage role. This is the best book I know of on the sport marriage."--Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

"In this insightful book, Steven Ortiz unveils the heretofore hidden realities of the lives of women who marry male pro athletes. Beneath the veneer of public glory and fortune the general public may assume makes for a perfect life, Ortiz reveals the stresses and strains of women’s emotional and managerial labor as 'marriage workers' in a high-pressure, career-dominated marriage. Through sensitive interviewing and deft observation, Ortiz shows both the oppressive costs of these women’s subordination within the sport marriage, and their creative, and even sometimes resistant, strategies to assert and meet their own and their children’s needs."--Michael A. Messner, coeditor of No Slam Dunk: Gender, Sport, and the Unevenness of Social Change