One of the constants about Phil Mickelson's pro golf career, other than his insane short game and his long-lived, one-sided rivalry with Tiger Woods, has been the visibility of his family. After every tournament win, Phil's wife, Amy, is the first person he greets; after every close loss, cameras make sure to find Amy's reaction in the gallery. The couple's three children are never far behind.
Fans across the country may not know her in any other capacity, but still, that visibility makes this feel jarring: Amy Mickelson has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Phil announced today that he would suspend his tour schedule indefinitely.
Obviously, the day-to-day trials the Mickelsons will be going through are first among the tragedies here. That's what's most important. But there are larger challenges -- and, subsequently, opportunities -- here. Mickelson's high profile gives the PGA Tour a chance to push harder than ever before for breast cancer research. It gives the LPGA Tour a chance to continue its charitable giving (Val Skinner's LIFE event, believed to be the largest breast cancer golf event, just raised $500,000). And more than anything else, it gives professional sports leagues a chance to survey where they are on breast cancer -- and maybe even charity at large.
Major League Baseball has its pink bats. What about the NFL? What about the NBA? What about hockey? Where do professional sports stand in dealing with fundraising for breast cancer? For other diseases? How obligated are they? Amy Mickelson's tragic, high-profile diagnosis is an opportunity for we sports fans to at least briefly reflect on what more we could do. Because there's always more to do.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.