Dr Indigo Willing is a sociologist and keen skateboarder.

The newly released Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 videogame could help redefine ageing and masculinity in sport according to a Griffith University researcher.

Sociologist Dr Indigo Willing from the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research says when the videogame originally debuted more than 20 years ago it vividly presented street skateboarding to mainstream audiences.

“Tony Hawk is the most well-known skateboarder in the world and hugely influential. I spoke to many skateboarders in their mid-30s to late 50s who said his videogame changed their lives. It not only introduced them to the sport, but to the lifestyle, music and culture.”

Dr Willing recently co-wrote a paper for Sport in Society about the Bones Brigade: An Autobiography documentary, which follows the rise of Tony Hawk and other pioneers of modern technical skating.

“What’s interesting about this film is these pioneers are now middle-aged men, but they continue to influence skating as a sport and lifestyle. This really challenges the assumption skateboarding is only for the young.”

Ageing gracefully in a youth dominated sport and sub-culture

Dr Willing said The Tired Video, a promotional video for a brand aimed at men in their 30s and above, was part of a trend acknowledging and reaching out to an ageing demographic.

“When we examined the video for a research paper, we saw these skateboarders modifying their tricks on street obstacles to pose a lower risk of injury. Often the tricks were slow and clumsy but presented with determination, humour and joy.

“In fact, the younger generation in the YouTube comments respected what they were doing, because they were having fun and that’s something people can relate to. It broadens the image of who can be a skater.”

Dr Willing said The Tired Video also offered a window into masculinity in sport, as the clips reveal how men film themselves to impress other men.

“With these ageing skaters we get an alternative masculinity which isn’t all macho. When men fail in sport, they’re giving themselves permission to experience greater emotional range and different ways to engage without pushing themselves to harm for the sake of winning.

“This video acknowledges that being average is totally fine and doesn’t make you any less of a skater. I think there is this bigger need for us to look at whether sport is just about winning or does failure present opportunities to learn and for others to learn from us.”

While Dr Willing expects Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC will find another receptive generation of young people, she hopes older and lapsed skaters take the opportunity to dust off their skateboards.

Photo: Dr Indigo Willing