Unlike so many of my colleagues in the media, I have no beef at all with the Miss America Pageant which, today officially announced its return, after seven years in Las Vegas, to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, where it was born more than 90 years ago.
I thoroughly enjoyed the weeks I spent in AyCee throughout the 1990s covering the event, and considering all of the dangers lurking out there for young women, I see absolutely nothing wrong with encouraging scholarship and social engagement on their part.
While neither of my two grown daughters ever expressed any interest in entering the Miss A program, I would have wholeheartedly endorsed their decisions to do so had they been so inclined.
Furthermore, as someone who can be somewhat parochial, I am thrilled Miss America is back where she belongs. And there’s no doubt the city is enjoying a well-disseminated—and positive—PR spike today.
One can’t help but wonder about the big-picture aspect of the move. While this is nice, who in the beleaguered gambling resort honestly believes that it will make any difference at all? The pageant ceased being of widespread interest decades ago. Can you even identify the television networks it’s been carried on the past five years?
And, if memory serves, the casinos hardly embraced their participation back in the day. Many times I listened to gambling den execs complain that the rooms and other goods and services they donated during Miss America’s Atlantic City run contributed nothing to their bottom lines (the rooms and suites used by those connected in various ways to the pageant could have been occupied by high rollers who helped pay the bills).
As my colleague, David Spatz so convincingly pointed out in his Wednesday “Curtain Call” blog (www.curtaincalltv.net/2/post/2013/02/a-day-that-will-live-in-infamy-for-ac.html), AyCee is in a life-and-death struggle with its surrounding competition. As such, it needs new, exciting and forward-thinking ideas to staunch the hemorrhaging of business that has been taking place for more than a half-decade.
Is anyone convinced that welcoming Miss America home fits those descriptions? And if they do, maybe that tells us all we need to know about where AyCee is—and, more to the point, where it’s headed.