India’s Thomas Cup triumph has created quite the buzz across a nation otherwise starved of sporting success beyond the fields of cricket. Congratulatory messages have poured in from all corners, drawing in personalities as disparate as PM Modi to Sunil Gavaskar. While words of praise are indeed in order, a curious spectacle unfolds in front of us. It has become the nature of sporting discourse in the country to make 1983 the point of reference for all major successes. And no one peddles this more than the Class of 83‘ themselves.

Self-referential to the point of nausea, they never shy away from inserting themselves into the narrative. Thus enter Sunil Gavaskar, invoking 1983 while the rest of us have moved on to 2022. Speaking on Star Sports before the game between Lucknow Super Giants and Rajasthan Royals, the great batsman, while gushing in praise, couldn’t help but draw themselves into the narrative:

“I think it is such a wonderful day for badminton, I think this could be the 1983 moment for badminton because 1983, nobody expected us to win. Here, I am not saying nobody expected India to win because India in the last two years, has developed a fabulous badminton team but they were playing 14-time champions Indonesia, just that little bit of doubt. I am just so delighted, as I said, over the sun, over the moon. I am over all the planets. Well done guys.”

For all intents and purposes, it is a throwaway statement at best, a means to bask in reflected glory at worst. Irrespective, the ’83 moment’ is a myth. It is devoid of content, just a form that floats into the picture whenever beckoned. In any case, progress in sports does not occur because we are suddenly in the midst of Kapil Dev running yards to snare Viv Richards, but this time with a racquet and shuttlecock in hand. It happens because of careful preparation and immense planning- both short and long-term. In that regard, isn’t it nice that Pullela Gopichand, Chief National Badminton coach, has outright stated that this outdoes 1983!