Some sad news coming out of the world of sport this week in Germany:
On Tuesday, Hannover 96 and German international goaltender Robert Enke died at the age of 32. Enke was a highly regarded sportsman and consumate gentleman, both on the pitch and off. Always viewed as a positive influence on his teammates and the game as a whole, Enke was seen as possible first-choice keeper for Germany’s World Cup campaign next summer in South Africa.
Enke’s story is noteworthy because his death, although certainly one of great tragedy, is an example of the blurred lines of the public and private worlds of sport and society. Enke had battled depression for the last three years of his life, most notably following the death of his infant daughter in the year 2006. Fearing what a discovery of his condition would mean for his privacy and his career, the former East German kept his diagnosis a secret, and ultimately took his own life.
Anna Motz has a great piece in today’s Guardian column on Enke’s story and the ongoing stigma of mental illness.
Last night was one of the last rounds of qualification ahead of the World Cup Finals. The German national team postponed their friendly battle with Chile, and the remainder of international matches featured a moment of silence in the keeper’s honor. A memorial service was held today at Hannover’s AWD Arena, with more than 49,000 mourners in attendance.
Sport is a fundamental part of society here in Europe, and by all measure, football (soccer) is king. That said, no matter what the sport, no game is more important than the health of its players. Hopefully, if any good can come of this tragedy it is in the fact that perhaps more awareness has been raised about the myriad of mental illnesses present in all corners of our society.