Accounting and xTREME? Rarely found in the same sentence... Until now. The xTREME Games were created by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2002 as an essential part of the company’s continued commitment to providing learning programs and educating youth about the accounting profession. According to the PwC Web site, the xTREME Games have grown to include nearly 80 schools, with more than 2,500 teams comprised of 13,000 participants. Since the games' inception, PwC has awarded approximately $1.5 million in total prize money.
The xTREME Games include xTAX, short for "Extreme Tax," and xACT, short for “Extreme Accounting.” Both are case competitions that expose students to real tax and accounting situations. According to the PwC Web site, number-crunching exercises are not allowed and the games primarily are focused on important issues to test and improve students' decision-making skills.
This year's competition began with universities across the country forming teams, which had to include two sophomores, one junior, and another team member at any grade level. All team members had to be enrolled in an accounting course or be an accounting major. The teams met with local PwC representatives to receive an official case packet, and they had two weeks to develop an answer to an accounting or tax problem.
For example, in the xACT game, the team from the University of Connecticut (UConn) argued a decision regarding a hypothetical aeronautics company having financial trouble. The students spent the two weeks researching the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy versus accepting a government bailout, along with practicing their presentation. Each of the ten teams that made it to the finals was awarded $10,000, with an additional $5,000 was given to their faculty advisors.
“The presentations we saw this year really raised the bar for future competitions,” said Valerie Wieman, national xACT partner champion at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “We were impressed not only by the quality of their solutions and insights, but also the enthusiasm and professionalism that each team brought to their presentations. It bodes well for the future of our profession.”
In addition to UConn, schools that sent teams to the national xACT finals in New York City were Providence College, Syracuse University, University of Illinois, and Villanova University. Teams that participated in the xTAX finals were Baylor University, The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, University of Florida, and Arizona State University.
“The experience these students gained by competing in the xTREME games is a wonderful complement to their academic studies," said Christina Fitzpatrick, national campus sourcing programs leader.
Arizona State University earned first place in the xTAX finals, and Illinois won the top prize in the xACT finals.
“[The competition] provides an inside look at the interesting challenges and issues we face on a daily basis in public accounting, at a time when many of the participants are beginning to consider the profession for their full-time careers,” Fitzpatrick continued. “By furthering their presentation, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving skills, the finalists are better prepared for the competitive job environment that awaits.”