Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder

Tony Hawk retired from professional skateboarding at the end of 1999 when he was only 31 years old. And even though his involvement in skateboarding helped lift the sport from alternative to mainstream, his involvement as a “retiree’ is helping to ensure the sport stays the course for generations to come. With the creation of the non-profit Tony Hawk Foundation, dozens of public skateparks have opened. And since the foundation’s inception four years ago, more than $1 million has been distributed to local parks and recreation departments.

Parks & Recreation: To what do you attribute skateboarding’s comeback in the mid-1990s?

Tony Hawk: Positive media coverage, updated liability laws and kids looking for more immediate excitement in their sporting activities.

Parks & Recreation: Your activities since then have really helped push skateboarding farther into the minds of everyday youth nationwide. Is this a way to safeguard skateboarding for the future?

Hawk: There is no definite way, but skating is on a very good track right now, Many cities are building public skateparks and those structures are by no means temporary. They also tend to get more continuous use than tennis courts or baseball fields.

Parks & Recreation: How important are public skateparks to a community?

Hawk: Public skateparks are a huge asset to a community. Kids are going to keep skating regardless of an existing park in their area, so it only benefits a city to provide a safe place to do so. It also helps to alleviate kids skating in streets and on private property.

Parks & Recreation: Do you have any tips on how to avoid building the wrong kind of skatepark?

Hawk: The best tip I can give is to get the local skaters involved in the design process and hire a reputable builder. You can find a detailed explanation of the proper steps through our foundation’s Web site,

Parks & Recreation: There are some people living in communities near a public skatepark that complain about noise–what should the park and recreation official tell these people?

Hawk: The same could be said for playgrounds and basketball courts. The only way to limit the noise is to limit the hours (no lights = no skating at night).

Parks & Recreation: Do you feel any pressure to train your sons in skateboarding?

Hawk: Not at all–I only want them to do it if they truly enjoy it. My oldest son is an avid skater, but his younger brother isn’t very interested.

Parks & Recreation: You retired in 1999 from competitive skateboarding because you fulfilled your decades-old wish list. Do you think you will return one day with a new wish list to complete?

Hawk: I will always have a wish list of tricks I want to learn, but I have no desire to compete any more. I have much more fun doing exhibitions and skating on my terms.

COPYRIGHT 2004 National Recreation and Park Association

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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