While the upcoming Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater remasters are pretty similar to the original games apart from a fresh coat of paint, a longstanding trick has had its name changed to better honour the man who invented it.
In skateboarding — both real and virtual — a “Mute Air” is when you grab the front of your board with your forward hand while airborne. It was invented by a skater named Chris Weddle in the early 1980s. Instead of Weddle being directly honoured for this achievement, however, the trick was given a nonsensical name that, unintentionally or not, mocked his deafness. It was a different time, and that kind of casual discrimination was generally accepted.
According to Tony Hawk, who today shared this story on his Instagram page, the skateboarding community at large went along with the name until recently, when Weddle was finally asked for his thoughts.
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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
“[Weddle] has been very gracious in his response but it is obvious that a different name would have honoured his legacy, as he is hearing impaired but not lacking speech,” Hawk explained. “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.”
And so, when players get their hands on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 in September, they’ll see Weddle’s name instead of the unfortunate label that has been attached to his trick for decades.
As with many hobbies, the upper echelons of skateboarding have long been dominated by white dudes who have the privilege of rarely coming face-to-face with obstacles based on their identity. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 may play like the old games, but in improvements like changing the “Mute Air” to the “Weddle” and expanding the lineup with more diverse skaters, the developers are moving this iconic franchise in the right direction.
“It’s going to be challenging to break the habit of saying the old name but I think Chris deserves the recognition,” Hawk added. “I told Chris recently and his reply was, ‘I’m so stoked!’”