4 Olympic sports accountants can learn from

Thomas Curley
Posted by Thomas Curley

It’s already the last week of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and it feels like it just started. Fans and athletes wait four years for this short stretch of time that seems to vanish in an instant.

Watching the Olympics, people often wonder: how did someone think this event up, and what skills or positive attributes does it showcase? Actually, accounting professionals can learn a lot from many of the sports featured in the Olympics, as strange as some of the events seem. Here are four events and what accounting professionals can learn from each.


This event requires athletes to be proficient in multiple skill sets. They must have the endurance to ski long distances, while also having sharpshooter skills to hit small targets throughout. It is a unique combination of stamina and concentration that isn’t easy, much like how your constantly shifting responsibilities between tax preparation, exit planning, consulting, etc. It’s exhausting and takes a certain mental toughness to be skilled in several areas. However, in the end, the unique combination of your talents and your ability to execute is what sets you apart as a professional and what truly provides value to your clients. Attempt to take every opportunity to learn different skills to assist in future projects and engagements.

Figure Skating

Typically, this is the most popular event of the Olympics. It is a graceful sport that combines the raw power of jumping and spinning with elegant dancing. However, beneath the actual skating are numbers. Every jump has a specific score attached to it if attempted. The jumps can be performed back to back for “combinations” to increase difficulty and thus increase the possible score. Throughout the program, the judges are looking for tiny errors in technique to see how many points the skater will receive out of the possible perfect score. Behind the scenes, figure skaters are constantly deciding what combination of moves to perform based on the risk of falling or receiving deductions. Sometimes it is better to attempt a hard jump and fall than to land a few easy jumps. Who knew figure skating had so much number-crunching and risk evaluation behind it? Accounting professionals, too, are constantly evaluating risks for clients, but they are also weighing risks and benefits for their own practices. Should you offer advisory services such as exit planning or stick solely with the technical work of tax preparation, which may be comfortable but have less upside potential? Take this into consideration when evaluating your firm’s services. Are your clients wanting more than you’re currently providing?

Alpine Skiing

Alpine skiing often brings to mind the image of someone racing down a mountain as fast as possible. However, in actuality there are 5 different races in Alpine skiing and they are each very different. They are the downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super g and the combined. Some of the athletes specialize in one or two of the disciplines, but some try and compete in all 5. The schedule can be brutal as some competitions have multiple events in one day or on back-to-back days. It can be exhausting competing so often, which is why not as many athletes are able to do it. The athletes must prioritize events to ensure maximum success. As the busy season gets into full swing, try not to let over-commitments wear your energy down. Look for ways to prioritize your time just like the Alpine skiers do.


Perhaps the most dangerous of all the Winter Olympic sports, bobsledding has interesting lessons for accountants. In bobsledding 2 or more individuals work together to push and drive a sled down a treacherous course reaching speeds of over 85 mph. It takes great teamwork and communication to make this happen and avoid disaster. Every athlete on the team has a specific role that, if done correctly, can lead to a fast and clean run. Teamwork is an important aspect in accounting, too, and is a must for a successful firm. Try and take the time to learn everyone’s various strengths and weaknesses and use that information to achieve success.

Enjoy the Olympics!

Additional Resources

eBook: Tech Roadmap: Selecting the Ideal Solutions to Thrive in Business Advising

Infographics: 4 Reasons to Leverage Technology in Your Accounting Firm

Advise Clients Confidently
Help businesses generate cash and improve their overall financial performance with ProfitCents, a web-based suite of financial analysis and benchmarking solutions. Learn more >>

tags: accountant, accountants, Accounting, accounting services, advisory services, CPA