Joanne C. Gerstner

Joanne Gerstner

Sports Journalist in Residence

  • Journalism


Joanne C. Gerstner is an award-winning multi-platform sports journalist, author, researcher and thought leader. She is the co-leader of the Sports Journalism program in the School of Journalism, teaching upper-level sports journalism classes and directing the Education Abroad program.

Her work appears in The New York Times, USA Today, ESPN, The Detroit News, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee website, The Cincinnati Enquirer, PGA Magazine and other outlets.

Gerstner's book, "Back in the Game: Why Concussion Doesn't Have to End Your Athletic Career", was honored with the national 2017 Clarion Award for best non-fiction. The book, which focuses on youth concussions and sports - aimed at coaches, athletes and parents - was released by Oxford University Press.

In June 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed Gerstner as a Commissioner to Michigan's Task Force on Women in Sports. She is the only sports journalist on the inaugural 14-person task force. Additionally, it is the first task force in the country to be empaneled at the state level to examine and make recommendations about girls and women in sports.

Also in 2019, Gerstner was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Specialist designation the U.S. Department of State, for journalism, sports media, journalism leadership and women in media leadership.

She received ComArtSci's 2017 Faculty Impact award, given annually to a faculty member who impacts students through mentoring and leadership. Gerstner is also the 2017 Association for Women in Communication's Headliner Award winner for the Detroit chapter, for her professional achievements and leadership in sports journalism. 

She will be inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in Fall 2021, because of her career's impact and breadth.

Gerstner's career has taken her to the world's biggest sporting events: the Olympics, women’s and men’s soccer World Cups, French and U.S. Open tennis championships, Ryder Cup, and numerous Stanley Cup, NBA, and NCAA playoffs/championships. She has been an NBA, tennis, golf, international sports and Olympics beat writer, as well as a main features/takeout writer.

In 2015, she became the first sports journalist in the world to be awarded a Jacobs Foundation Fellowship for neuroscience. She studied under key researchers, professors and doctors at the University of Zurich in social neuroscience and neurology. She returned to Zurich in 2018, continuing her interaction with the Jacobs Foundation as a media educator and trainer for its world-leading neuroscientists and researchers. In 2020, she will be part of the Foundation's online global fellow neuroscience symposium.

During 2012-13, Gerstner was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, focusing her academic year-long studies on sports and concussions. Gerstner frequently provides expert analysis and lectures on sports neurology. She was a featured panelist at South by Southwest Sports 2015 for the festival’s first discussion of brain health and athletes. Gerstner was the keynote speaker for the 2019 Big Ten/Ivy League TBI symposium, discussing translational neurology and the media.

She has also received fellowships from the European Union's Centre for Journalism and Steve Saler/Newsweek Magazine.

She is a frequent commentator and expert on sports and women’s media issues for global outlets, such as CNN, BBC and NPR.

Gerstner is the past president and chair of the board for the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM). She is the inaugural 2014 AWSM Ann Miller Award recipient for her organizational contributions and advancing women in sports media.

Gerstner is a graduate of Oakland University (BA) and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University (MSJ). She was named as Oakland University's 2020 Distinguished Alumni, for her professional achievement and impact on journalism.


Coordinator, Sports Journalism minor program

Classes taught: Sports Journalism classes (intermediate, advanced, media management/leadership);  advanced feature writing; introduction to journalism.

Lead, Sports Journalism Study Abroad to Paris and Rome

Co-advisor, Association for Women in Sports Media - MSU chapter

Sports Media industry liaison



Research and Teaching

Sports in all aspects: business, play, health and medicine, gender roles, youth, and neurology/concussion. Women in media leadership, women in sports leadership. Sociology of sports and media.


Recent publications

Coverage of athletes during COVID:

Nurse/bobsledder Kristi Koplin

- Nurse/para-snowboarder Brittani Coury

- MSU basketball star Cassius Winston

- American tennis star Mardy Fish and his mental health battle

- 2021 Tokyo hopeful Regan Smith is staying focused

Coverage for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee from the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin:

- Winners

Coverage for the U.S. Olympic Committee from the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco:

- Lindsey Vonn

- Missy Franklin

Coverage from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships:

- Alysa Liu

- Jason Brown

Featured national blogger for Association for Women in Communications

- first person piece

Podcast appearances:

- Powering up! with Anne Doyle

- Downward facing spiritual spiral with Eddie Cohn

Contact Information

404 Wilson Rd., Room 305
Communication Arts and Sciences 
Michigan State University

Twitter: @joannecgerstner