If you've ever played any of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games, which have been around for 21 years now, you'll be familiar with the 'Mute Air' which is one of the most common tricks on the game.
Ahead of the re-release of the first two games, which have been given a whole new 2020 makeover, Hawk has confirmed that the trick will be renamed in order to honour its creator and move away from the name's problematic origin.
In an Instagram post, which Hawk shared on Thursday, the iconic skater explained how the trick was invented by another skater named Chris Weddle in 1981 – who is deaf. Due to his impairment, Weddle didn't speak much so after he invented the trick it was given the name 'mute.' When researching the origins of certain tricks, Hawk reached out to Weddle and asked if he was happy with the name. Weddle, although gracious, admitted that he would rather the trick would have been called something else as despite being deaf, he is not without speech.
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 honoured his legacy, as he is deaf 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.'
Hawk adds that ahead of the release of the new game, which can now be played as a demo, that the 'mute' is no more and has been replaced with 'The Weddle Grab' in order to honour Weddle something which the skater was clearly delighted with.
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. I told Chris recently and his reply was 'I’m so stoked!'
News of the name change has been greeted warmly by fans who are happy to see Weddle credited for his contribution to skateboarding and for moving away from a distasteful name.
The new game is also making another bit of history by featuring Leo Baker, who will become the first-ever non-binary skater to be featured in the long-running video game series and only the third out LGBTQ athlete in its history.