American studies major Colin Utley is passionate about three things: “the city of Detroit, Batman and sports.” With no long-term prospects for Batman-related work, he tends to focus on the other two.
Utley grew up in Grosse Pointe, Mich., which he calls the Evanston of Detroit. He cares deeply about his turf, and Detroit’s poor reputation frustrates him. “If people who live in an area grow up and forget about it, it has no chance,” he says.
So Utley actively pursues ways to bolster the city’s image and simultaneously feed his fondness for sports. From spring quarter 2005 through the end of winter quarter 2006, Utley left Northwestern to work full time as a media relations manager for the Super Bowl XL host committee. The game was played in Detroit on Feb. 5, 2006, a date “branded in my brain,” Utley says. He spent a year creating publications, writing speeches, making presentations and pitching stories to hype Detroit.
Upon his return to Northwestern, Utley wrote an 80-page senior thesis about the parallels between the rise of American football and the rise of television. He spent four days researching for the project at the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
After graduation he will work once again with Roger Penske, the owner of Penske Racing and chair of the Super Bowl XL host committee. An influential businessman, Penske helped restart the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, an Indy Car race in the city’s giant public park. Utley will work in media relations leading up to the Labor Day Weekend race.
— Christopher Danzig (J08)