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Re: Do you HAVE to go area?
It's an extreme hardship for the kids to suddenly give up a Saturday that they were planning on being at work, to go to a contest (and spend all day there, because in theory you MIGHT make finals), that you may or may not be successful in.
Not every program and community has the same level of investment.
If you don't think you're going to do well enough to advance to finals, I see zero problem with not taking the kids.