Did you happen to catch the Miss America pageant Saturday night? Yeah… me neither. And from the looks of it, not many other people did either. For some mysterious reason, the contest’s ratings took a nose dive similar to what the NFL has been experiencing. (NY Daily News)

No swimsuits? No viewers.

Sunday’s Miss America 2019 competition — the first time participants did not don a swimsuit — reached 4.3 million viewers on ABC, a 23% plunge in viewership from last year’s broadcast, according to Nielsen overnights.

Past participants also ripped what they are now dubbing as “Miss America 2.0” for being “too rehearsed” and lacking a certain degree of authenticity.

The Miss America organization has faced scandal and controversy in the past year, after sexist emails by former CEO Sam Haskell were revealed, leading to his resignation and the appointment of former winner Gretchen Carlson. Last year’s Miss America Cara Mund in August wrote an open letter claiming she had been “silenced” by leadership, leading to calls for Carlson to resign.

To a certain degree, I can sort of see why people are jumping to the conclusion that the ratings are down because they dropped the swimsuit competition. But that just seems like a bit too easy and obvious of an answer. Maybe that accounted for some of the people who didn’t tune in, but a 23% decline in a single year? I’m not buying it.

First of all, how many people were actually tuning in to see the contestants parade past in a bikini and high heels? It doesn’t sound like that’s much of a draw for the straight women in the audience. And when it comes to any of the men who choose to watch, you can find much racier eye candy pretty much anywhere on the cable television spectrum. Could it possibly be that the pageant organizers and even the contestants were telegraphing their punches and letting everyone know that they were going to dive into the political battles engulfing the nation? It didn’t take long for the eventual winner to start dumping on Donald Trump during the interview portion of the event.

You realize that’s what’s killing the NFL’s ratings, right? People get stuffed to the gills with political infighting all day long no matter where they turn. Sometimes we need to just relax and unwind with something else. For some of us, it’s sports. For others, I suppose it’s beauty pageants. But if you start jamming more political yammering down our throats during those events, there’s always something on Netflix.

But let’s get back to that bathing suit question for a moment. The reason given for dropping it was that their new leadership declared the contestants “would not be judged based on their outward physical appearance.” Excuse me, but you do remember that this thing was set up to be a “beauty pageant,” don’t you? And if it’s a beauty pageant which won’t take things relating to “beauty” into account, why did you only drop the bathing suit portion? You’ve still got the young ladies parading around in evening gowns and spending more on their hair and makeup than most Americans do on car payments.

If looks have nothing to do with it, then what sort of a contest is it? And for that matter, why are we looking at the contestants at all? Couldn’t you just have them all fill out a Mensa test and write a couple of essays on how they would like to see the world made a better place and pick the winner that way? Even if you think having the women compete in swimsuits is somehow objectifying them, by removing the bathing suit portion, you haven’t stopped doing it. You’re just objectifying them a little less.

I’m not calling for an end to the Miss America Pageant or even suggesting they do things differently. It’s a private organization and as long as they’re not spending any taxpayer money they can do whatever they like. But it does sound to me like they’re encouraging the politicization of the event and turning it into a joke.