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Little Known Super Bowl Fact: Auditing Takes a Back Seat to a Strong Passing Game

By Keith Morelli

Auditing Takes a Back Seat to a Strong Passing Game

TAMPA (February 3, 2021) -- This week, traffic around Tampa is more aggravating than usual. Hotel rooms are in short supply. Reservations at restaurants are a must. Even the drive-thru lanes at fast food eateries are backed up.

Add to all that Super Bowl gridlock: audit efficiency timeliness.

Researchers with the Muma College of Business’ Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy are looking at that topic in and around Super Bowl host cities over the past 16 years to see if there is an impact on auditing this time of year. Preliminary findings suggest that, yes there is an impact.

“All My Rowdy Friends: The Effect of Super Bowl Hosting on Audit Timing” is the title of the work in progress, said James Whitworth, assistant USF accounting professor and CPA.

The researchers are using the Super Bowl setting “to explore the impact of non-financial, exogenous source of distraction on audit efficiency/timeliness,” says the abstract. “The magnitude of festivities related to hosting the Super Bowl, combined with the game falling during the audit ‘busy season,’ results in an ideal setting to examine how audit firms navigate short-term, anticipated audit team capacity constraints.”

Researchers went back 16 years to review financial reporting data for host cities and found that staging the premier sporting event each February does in fact result in delays in those cities in audit reports by two days and less timely SEC filings.

“However, we find no impact of Super Bowl hosting on audit fees, earnings announcement timeliness, or audit quality,” the abstract says. “Our study contributes to our understanding of the costs of Super Bowl hosting, provides empirical evidence that exogenous distraction reduces efficiency in a large organizational setting, underscores the importance of high-quality human resource inputs to positive audit outcomes and provides evidence that audit firms accept lower audit efficiency in response to short-term, anticipated capacity constraints.”

The research does not make any predictions on who will win Super Bowl LV.