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Is it exploitative to have Sandy Hook students perform at the Super Bowl?
Some argue it's a moving tribute. Others say it's a strange, empty spectacle
Newtown families were invited onto the field before a New York Giants game on Dec. 30.
Newtown families were invited onto the field before a New York Giants game on Dec. 30. Al Bello/Getty Images
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t Sunday's Super Bowl, 26 Sandy Hook Elementary students will sing "America The Beautiful" before Alicia Keys performs the national anthem. "Is there a touch of exploitation in the move?" asks Toni Monkovic at The New York Times, in a question she's surely not alone in posing.

The key to answering Monkovic's question is in asking two more: Who does this benefit? And is it doing any harm?

At least arguably, this benefits the performing children by letting them express their grief through song. Then again, traveling the country, appearing on morning shows, and singing in front of millions of people could really strain a 10-year-old. When these kids return home, how will they face the reality of what's happened? Many of the victims have requested that the media leave them alone. There's a reason for that. Their lives will never be the same, and everyone deserves the right to grieve in private.

Does the performance benefit the Sandy Hook community? Or the grieving nation? Maybe. Sasha Brown-Worsham at The Stir says it shows "the kids are in our hearts and that we have not forgotten." The flip side of that, to borrow the words of one particularly eloquent commenter on ProFootballTalk.com, is that "empty spectacle like this lets everyone tear up and feel a little better, in some ambiguous way, without actually doing anything to address the issues that made these kids tragic figures to begin with."

Does it benefit CBS and the NFL? If the performance makes more people tune in than otherwise would, definitely. An estimated 111 million people are expected to watch the game, and Evercore analyst Alan Gould estimates the network will generate $255 million in ad sales.

News anchors were ridiculed and shamed for interviewing Sandy Hook students on national television immediately after the shooting. Is parading them in front of millions of Americans less than two months after the incident really all that different?

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