The testimony of a disappointed but not resentful Indian fan. My essay for NewYorker.com:
Not long ago, I discovered that I could own a piece of my childhood trauma if I shelled out sixteen dollars on eBay. The August 22-28, 1976, issue of the Illustrated Weekly of India, which came out just after the Montreal Olympics, bore the following headline: “600 Million Indians—Not One Bronze!” The men’s field-hockey team, which had won the World Cup the previous year, finished seventh in Montreal. It was the first time since 1924 that the team had returned from the Olympics without a medal. I was thirteen then and do not remember whether the report in the Illustrated Weekly offered me any consolation. It probably didn’t, since the headline is the only thing that has remained in my memory. Which is all to say that, if for the rest of the world the Olympic Games represent glorious achievement through sports, for many urban, educated, middle-class Indians, they offer only a ritual wallowing in a feeling of failure.