Fremantle Dockers train at Cockburn. Jesse Hogan.
Picture : Sharon Smith The West Australian

Unseen Anxiety At A Sports Level

Anxiety is a tough thing to have never mind if you play elite sport, this is what Jesse Hogan faces at the moment.






This week in the AFL Jesse Hogan was stood down to play by Freemantle for turning up to training in a state that didn’t allow him to train. That was all good and well until they mentioned he had Clinical Anxiety. This is where it all got ugly for Jesse.

Yes, he is an AFL player that is paid well and should know better, I am not denying that what I have problems with is the AFL media, especially the two shows I watched AFL 360 and On the Couch. There were 7 people altogether on the show, there were three that I had real trouble with

Gillon McLachlan – CEO of the AFL

Mark Robinson – AFL 360, Chief Football writer Herald Sun

Garry Lyon – On the couch and commentator and former player.

Gill didn’t want anything to do with it, he was very awkward talking about on AFL 360 and was trying to dismiss the mental health issues and problems in the AFL.

Mark, he didn’t believe that he could use the mental health card and that his decisions were inappropriate for an elite athlete

Garry who has had his own mental health issues wanted to dismiss even to the point he gestured to sweep it under the carpet.

So what brought to writing this article, frustration that people think, and this was evident not only on these shows but social media as well that elite athletes have to behave differently from the wider world and should not have the same problems.

“A mental health disorder characterised by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities”.

Clinical anxiety is a serious problem, that not only can render you inoperable but turning to ways to get over the anxiety and some of these are drugs and alcohol.

I don’t know the full extent of Jesse’s illness but I will have a look at a couple of things that the media won’t talk about because it is too hard for them.

Freemantle’s Peter Bell mentioned that his anxiety caused him to make bad decisions, yes drinking one week out from the opening round of your job when there are strict rules, wasn’t a good one, but this could be his coping mechanism, which would need to be addressed.

Alcohol is a staple in the Australian culture and can be used to break down anxiety in and around groups. If the person with anxiety is on medication to help with the illness then there is a real problem, one of these is exacerbated the effect of drugs and alcohol.

From my experience with medication, this is so true to the point where you can’t drink at all, I would be ok for a while but then blackout and this was only after a couple of drinks, so in Jesse’s case, this could explain the way he was in the video.

I know that the media have to write about current events in the AFL, but the path these two programs went down with this situation was appalling, the anger shown by some and the inability to address the mental health issue.

Jesse has been through a lot, testicular cancer, in May 2017 just a month after his father passed away from cancer. Events like this would affect anyone, never mind a young man with high expectations on him.

The issue isn’t about that he has let down the football club, that Freemantle has made another bad player decision, have you ever thought that these guys are going back home to the west, not just to play football but for help and comfort in a familiar environment.

These situations are across all elite sports, I am not saying don’t report or have thoughts of what has happened, just pull back and think about it and your criticism will have on the individual because giving them a whack in the media won’t help in these situations.

The hard part for all players in the AFL now with mental health problems is the few according to Gil McLachlan, that are using this to avoid drug testing, there will always be the question asked.

It’s not about pointing out the few it is about helping the many.

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