July 11, 2021

Is Hema a No Go?

The Tour de France is on and suffered a big crash on the very first day, when a spectator stepped out in front of an onslaught of cyclists. What does the Tour de France have to do with hemophilia?

One of our favorite blog contributors and former PEN contributor is Richard Atwood of North Carolina, who is always on the watch for all things related to hemophilia. He noticed something interesting while watching the riders that first day. He writes, “Watching the Tour de France, I noticed the Jumbo Visma team kit with the words HEMA on the sides and sleeves of the jerseys. This Dutch pro cycling team is sponsored by Jumbo (a Dutch supermarket chain – not an elephant!) and Visma (a software company). I first thought HEMA might have something to do with blood, but it is a Dutch self-service store chain (not to be confused with the Chinese food chain with the same name).    

“The technology for the team kits is advancing. What used to be spandex has been developed into new materials. But this new material burns into the cyclist’s skin when they get road rash, adding to the pain and bleeding. I always think first about blood, regardless of the situation, even when I now know that HEMA refers to food in this cycling situation. Pro cycling is dependent upon sponsors, just like the bleeding disorders community.”

Why would a food company call itself HEMA? One on-line source says “According to many linguists, the Greek word aima (haema, hema, blood) is derived from the ancient Greek verb “αίθω” (aetho), which means “make red-hot, roast” “warm or heat”.

HEMA’s use of the word reminds me of Ford creating a car called Nova, which translates into “no go” in Spanish! It’s good to check globally before deciding on a name. Or maybe we can get HEMA to sponsor some hemophilia events?

Quick Update: an American named Sepp Kuss wins a stage in the Tour de France today, the first American to accomplish that feat in 10 years. And he rides for the Jumbo Visma team. With his solo breakaway in the mountains for miles before the finish line, he got lots of camera time, something that sponsors crave. So a large audience saw the HEMA logo on his jersey!

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