Malcolm Blight says some of the darkest days he has experienced in his life came when he was coaching in the AFL.
The former Geelong coach, two-time premiership-winning Adelaide mentor and short-term St Kilda boss was responding to an article by SEN’s Kane Cornes on the back of Damien Hardwick’s resignation as Richmond coach.
In which Cornes wrote: “Let’s stop pretending that earning between $600,000 and a million dollars per season to coach one of 18 AFL teams is the worst job in the world.
“It’s arguably the best.”
BEING AN AFL COACH IS A GREAT JOB, LET’S STOP PRETENDING IT’S NOT
While Blight does concur with some of Cornes’ sentiment, he says it’s difficult to judge if you have never been in the throes of a senior coaching job.
Blight firmly believes that a person can never fully understand the ins and outs of the high-pressure position if they have not experienced it for themselves.
“With Damien Hardwick walking away and Alastair Clarkson (stepping aside), for all the respect I have for people that are ex-players and people in the media, they have an opinion and they’re quite entitled to have an opinion,” commenced Blight on SEN’s Sportsday SA.
“But they don’t quite get – don’t quite get – the pressure and all the effort of the senior coaching role, which takes its toll.
“Kane Cornes wrote, ‘Being an AFL coach is a great job, let’s stop pretending it’s not’. Now I don’t think anyone hasn’t said that. Kane has a lot of good things to say in there, but the thing I reckon he really missed out on is the point.
“The point is if you haven’t done it, you don’t understand it deeply.
“It’s not money, it’s not job security which he talked about, it’s not being a business owner, in fact, it’s one of if not the most public and opinionated roles in the country.
“He mentions doctors, nurses, real estate. They’re not subject to massive comment.”
Blight suggests the negativity that comes with being in charge of a professional sporting team, specifically an AFL club, can at times be unbearable.
Despite enjoying success during his time at the helm of both the Cats and the Crows, Blight insists the job certainly took its toll on him.
“If you lose continually as a coach, you’re mocked, derided and generally humiliated. You actually get humiliated every week,” he added.
“So that’s the answer to Kane. Then I was reading The Advertiser this morning and the editor on the editor’s page has gone, ‘Is AFL coaching too hard for even the hardest men?’
“They’ve actually got a better understanding than some people that commentate on the game. ‘The heightened scrutiny of their performance amid the ever-growing commercialisation of the sport and the endless abuse they endure in the toxic milieu of social media and even from some fans must at times be intolerable’.
“It takes its toll.
“When you talk about moves and what they could have done, that’s not a problem, you can actually make commentary on that.
“But to actually go through the Bunsen Burner and get that at you every day, ad infinitum, hour upon hour.
“Some of the darkest places I went to in my life have been in a coaching role. Everyone thinks you’re going ok…
“Someone once said you need to be stupid and you need to be made of granite, and I reckon the granite sometimes flakes. And that happened to me.
“I don’t reckon there’s been a guy in control, particularly at the elite level, that hasn’t at some stage thought ‘what is going on here?’”
Cornes does admit that “Coaching an AFL team has its downfalls”, but did add: “They know what they are signing up for.”
From Blight’s point of view, the job is not without its pitfalls.
It’s not the first time Blight has commented on this issue either.
“I’VE NEVER REALLY TALKED ABOUT THIS”: BLIGHT REVEALS TOLL OF COACHING
Listen to Blight below: