Indie Kids Can Jump

Musicians, Athletes to Face Off in Charity Basketball Game

  • After its success last year, POP vs JOCK is back.

At 6’4” and a half, Win Butler, lead singer of the Arcade Fire, is an imposing presence on stage, but on the court, he might be a little on the short side.

As part of the POP Montreal festival, a rag-tag team of musicians and celebrities, led by Butler, is going up against a team of Concordia and McGill athletes for a charity basketball game this Saturday.

The event is called POP vs. Jock and it’s the second year the Montreal basketball and music communities have come together under the POP banner to raise money for DJ Sports Club, a non-profit youth organization in Little Burgundy.

“It’s actually an initiative started by Win,” said Dan Seligman, creative director of POP Montreal. “It’s a fun game and there’s a halftime show.”

The game is taking place at McGill University’s Sports Centre and will feature a halftime show by David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame, and new media studio Moment Factory.

Kid Koala and Butler’s fellow Arcade Fire member (and wife) Régine Chassagne will be providing music during the event. Some of the POP players up against the Redmen and Stingers are Win and his brother Will Butler, Martin Starr of Freaks and Geeks and Party Down fame, pro basketball player Luke Bonner and Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes.

“[Win’s] really passionate about basketball,” Seligman said. “So through this league that he’s involved with he met Dexter [John] who runs this organization called DJ Sports Club. So through that, Win got the idea of doing a fundraising event.”

Approximately 700 kids and teenagers take part in the DJ Sports Club programs, and on top of competitive and recreational basketball, they offer cooking classes, computer classes, study programs and leadership training.

John, the founder and director of DJ Sports Club, said that basketball is used as a kind of bait to get young people involved in the variety of other educational and social programs they offer. But he adds that being a member of a team sport can do a lot for a person’s development.

“It’s like society with different classes within a team sport,” John said.

Win Butler’s been in the basketball league for a number of years. And we started talking and he found out that I do stuff with kids and he asked how to help. And we came up with a basketball game. With POP Montreal, it all just came together.
—DJ Sports Club Founder Dexter John

“There are a lot of different layers to team sports. But the biggest thing is working as a team and not just being by yourself. You’re working towards a common goal with other people’s interests in mind. In the long-term, you have respect for other people also, not just yourself. Your actions reflect the team.” 

John met Butler through the adult basketball leagues he organizes for men and women.

“Win’s been in the basketball league for a number of years,” John said. “And we started talking and he found out that I do stuff with kids and he asked how to help. And we came up with a basketball game. And with POP Montreal it all just came together.”

John’s connections within the tight-knit Montreal basketball community lead to the involvement of McGill and Concordia. Jeremiah Gordon, who represents McGill athletics, said that John approached them and that getting student athletes interested in participating was easy.

“It’s not a tough job for those guys to sign up,” Gordon said. “For one, they do a lot of community work and they appreciate raising money for DJ Sports Club. At the same time, a lot of the artists they play against are stars for those guys. So they enjoy playing basketball against them.”

But just because the university players might be a little star-struck doesn’t mean they are going to go soft on Team POP.

“I think usually how it starts is for the first couple of minutes, everyone’s a little easy,” Gordon said. “But last year, for sure, and I’m sure this year again—the intensity picks up and everyone’s competitive spirit kicks in. It’s a lot of fun for everyone.”

POP vs. Jock / Sept. 22 / McGill Sports Centre (475 des Pins Ave. W.) / $20.00 / 2:30 p.m. / For more info visit goo.gl/tLXva or call the McGill Sports Centre at 514-398-1539

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