Profile: 12 x World Skateboarding Vert Champion, 9 x X Games Gold Medalist (14 x medalist), master of the ’900′, Host of Tony Hawk’s Demolition Radio on SiriusXM, Skateboard video game tycoon, founder of the Tony Hawk Foundation
Game Changer on the board:
Tony Hawk’s impact on a skateboard is a matter of un-lit v. lit. Before Hawk arrived on the scene, skating was counter-culture. It was a way for the bad boys to rebel and flash their mettle. For some perspective I highly recommend Stacy Peralta’s excellent documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys. Skating as a sport was un-lit. After Tony Hawk’s arrival, skating is ‘mainstream’. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and featured prominently on national media and TV. It’s insanely popular and Tony Hawk is its most popular athlete. He’s often referred to as the “Michael Jordan of skating”. The moment that lit the skating movement as a sport was the X Games in 1999. Hawk pulled off the much anticipated 900. From that moment on skating has been measured by competition and achievement. Like I said, lit. And speaking of the X Games, Hawk has won nine gold medals. The X Games are essentially the Olympics for skating, moto and other raucous sports. Built on his success as a world class athlete, Hawk has ventured into video games and radio. Hawk is a world-class athlete who also happens to be a master entrepreneur and innovator.
Game Changer off the board:
The Tony Hawk Foundation was launched in 2002. Per the foundation web site: “The Tony Hawk Foundation seeks to foster lasting improvements in society, with an emphasis on supporting and empowering youth.”
The primary function of the foundation is to help communities build quality and safe skateboard parks. Kids (especially in tough inner-city neighborhoods) need a a safe place to skate and be engaged. If this seems “mundane”, consider this: We hear about kids getting in trouble and or living an unhealthy lifestyle every day. A good skatepark gets kids involved, provides a safe location to hang out with friends and promotes a healthy lifestyle. All important points and as my wife would say: “You never see fat kids on skateboards.” Not unlike a good baseball field or basketball court, skateparks are a great place for kids to prove themselves as athletes and provide a much needed sense of empowerment and confidence.
The foundation helps individuals and communities get organized and provides needed resources. And they hold some big-time events to promote their cause.
There are a number of steps involved but they’re all clearly explained in this terrific interactive graphic on the foundation’s FAQ page.
I really think it’s a fantastic effort with meaning well beyond skating. Hawk recently said: “I cannot stress enough the importance of skateparks in high-risk areas—they offer kids a safe place to go and something to do that gives them a sense of self-esteem they may never find anywhere else.”
Besides the skateparks the Tony Hawk Foundation supports, Hawk has a long history of supporting the Make a Wish Foundation. In case you don’t know, Make a Wish grants children with life-threatening illnesses a wish. Sometimes it’s a trip to Disneyland and sometimes it’s a chance to meet their hero – in this case, Tony Hawk.
Make a Wish will pull at your heartstrings. Hawk is pretty tremendous in supporting their efforts.
Skateboarding might not be first to mind when you think about pro sports but there’s no question it’s an awesome platform for Tony Hawk and his social ventures.