Everybody loves pro skater Tony Hawk. Heck, there are numerous memes about.
Hawk’s enthusiasm for skateboarding and light teasing of his fans has solidified him as an internet darling. Now, the legendary athlete is giving everyone another reason to support him: Hawk is renaming an iconic trick in his Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game series to honor its creator Chris Weddle. But this homage is a lot bigger than just giving Weddle props.
The trick was originally dubbed the “mute grab” in 1981 when Weddle debuted it. But Weddle is deaf. People weren’t as well-versed or sensitive about disabled people at the time. The Americans with Disabilities Act was not passed until 1990 — and even today we’ve got a long way to go.
Hawk acknowledged the issue with the choice of language writing on Instagram:
For nearly 40 years, we’ve shamelessly referred to this trick as the “mute” air/grab. Here is the backstory: around 1981, a deaf skater and Colton skatepark local named Chris Weddle was a prominent amateur on the competition circuit. The “Indy” air had just been created & named so somebody proposed that grabbing with the front hand should be known as the “Tracker” air. Others countered that Chris was the first to do, so it should be named after him. They referred to him as the “quiet, mute guy.” So it became known as the mute air, and we all went along with it in our naive youth. In recent years a few people have reached out to Chris (who still skates) about this trick and the name it was given. He has been very gracious in his response but it is obvious that a different name would have honored his legacy, as he is hearing impaired but not lacking speech. I asked him last year as I was diving into trick origins and he said he would have rather named it the “deaf” or “Weddle” grab if given the choice. His exact quote to me was “I am deaf, not mute.” So as we embark on the upcoming @tonyhawkthegame demo release, some of you might notice a trick name change: The Weddle Grab. It’s going to be challenging to break the habit of saying the old name but I think Chris deserves the recognition. Thanks to @darrick_delao for being a great advocate to the deaf community in action sports, and for being the catalyst in this renaming process. I told Chris tecently and his reply was “I’m so stoked!” And then he shot this photo in celebration yesterday. : @yousta_storytellers_club
A post shared by Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) on Aug 12, 2020 at 8:40am PDT
Weddle is still an active skateboarder and in recent years people have asked him about the name of the trick.
“I asked him last year as I was diving into trick origins and he said he would have rather named it the ‘deaf’ or ‘Weddle’ grab if given the choice,” Hawk wrote. “His exact quote to me was, ‘I am deaf, not mute.’ So as we embark on the upcoming @tonyhawkthegame demo release, some of you might notice a trick name change: The Weddle Grab.”
Hawk credited Weddle and skater Darrick De La O for being great advocates of the deaf community in action sports.
Many folks on Twitter praised Hawk for listening and making the long-overdue correction.
“Every story I hear about Tony Hawk makes me like him more. What a guy,” one user Tweeted.
“This is rad and a great example of how simple it can be to make amends to historically marginalized communities,” one person wrote.
“Met him a couple of times, he’s really wonderful,” another said.
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