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The hermeneutic code, the question, the enigma.

Under the hermeneutic code, we list the various (formal) terms by which an enigma can be distinguished, suggested, formulated, held in suspense, and finally disclosed.

Barthes' definition of the hermeneutic code, as given above, conveys the concept of suspense. A moving narrative always thrives on the transition between the known and the unknown, information is power (information is, in fact, a drug, but that's another lexia) and the power play between the author and the reader, which is modeled by nature versus the individual rather than a monarch versus a subject within the hypertextual environment, creates and maintains a tension that engages both parties with the interaction. The reader desires to know more of the text and delves deeper into it, and the text offers a little more in the way of clues (which can be ambiguous, misleading or possibly correct) to see how far the reader can be kept in the dim light of incomplete information. The moment the reader sheds all false interpretations to come up with the one correct answer to the enigma defines the moment that the phoenix, having burned its body of false information to a heap of ashes, finally rises to find new life in truth.

Football uses the hermeneutic code to good effect. Of course, there is the natural instinct to label any two player game hermeneutical by definition, since both parties will possess incomplete information about the motivations and / or the intentions of the other side, as well as of their own. Even though football proceeds strategically with each ten yards, the action within those ten yards is highly dynamic and unpredictable. The players of the opposing team do not know whether the quarterback will prefer to run the last five yards, or attempt a pass which may well place the team twenty five yards further in the field. Not only is the opposing team curious, but also, possibly, the quarterback himself. If the defined strategy allows him to take the initiative, or if he knows that he will be tackled for the fourth time before he makes the ten yards, he may well attempt a pass since he has nothing to lose. In short, individual actions within football each constitute an enigma. (HER. Enigma 1: An unpredictable action of an individual, an infinitude of possibilities)

However, the hermeneutic code finds its most significant expression within the strategies employed by either team. Before the quarterback braves the field, the team goes into a huddle to decide on a pass play or a run play and to agree on certain specific points. The difference between a conservative, predictable run play that may gain the team a few yards, as contrasted to a risky pass play which may end up gaining the team more than thirty yards, as well as causing them to lose the ball, defines a difficult choice. Whichever strategy the team ends up selecting, however, is advantageous for them, at least for the first few seconds. They know what they are supposed to do, and the opposing team doesn't. They must discover it for themselves before it is too late. (HER. Enigma 2: One of two possible strategies to be employed by the team, a dilemma for all concerned)

The hermeneutic code represents only one way in which football can be explicated, however. The other Barthesian codes are no less significant.