The problem with critical debate is a simple one. Commenters prior have identified certain trends -- things like advocacy skills or educational growth -- both of which are valuable in an abstract level but are often neglected when the majority of these discussions occur. The problem with critical debate is that the intellectual labor necessary to adequately condense and explain broad swaths of theoretical concepts, then apply those concepts to a debate round is an impossible task (if one values accurately reading that scholarship). In debates I have judged and participated in, complex language has become a crutch rather than a mechanism for meaningful deliberation. It's easy to say K debate makes you more ethical or a better advocate but I'd wager that 90% of graduating high schoolers couldn't have a more than a ten minute conversation about the critique they are best at with an academic in the field -- I know I couldn't and I only lost three rounds going for Baudrillard in three years.
Debate -- specifically K debate -- doesn't demand evidence quality or production (although when it does have new or good cards, those articles are stolen and recirculated until any meaning is stripped from it). If you want an example of critical debate's lack of innovation, just look at Wilderson or Baudrillard debates: despite a plethora of new evidence (of way higher quality) being released every day, people are still reading cards from Red White and Black or primary source Baudrillard. This trend isn't new: I know I stole a bunch of cards when I read the K. What's different now is the attitude of superiority surrounding the debaters who do it now. I implore you to return to debate once you're no longer a debater because the view from the outside is toxic. More than any other style, K debate has encouraged disrespect as strategy (especially at the high school level! After KM videos were posted, Baudrillard debaters weren't just obnoxious, they were mean!) which exacerbates any divide this community already had. Don't get me wrong, language Ks were extremely important in curtailing sexist discourse in the community but the collapsing of debate to only language games defeats the purpose of debate's unique pedagogical value.
Paradoxically, K debate raises the long-term barrier to entry for small schools more than any other resource impediment. I know what you're thinking: "I was a small school and K debate helped me participate against the big schools!" To some degree, yes. In the short term, small schools won vs big schools. But how does one meaningfully recruit and retain novices and junior varsity debaters when they expect to debate Immigration policy decisions and are forced to defend the legitimacy of the Civil Rights movement? It's not that these discussions aren't valuable (I know a ton about psychoanalysis and its relationship to physical markers), but the applicability of these discussions outside academia is limited. Extremely limited. If you want to become a social advocate, lawyer, or policy wonk, having historical background is important but absent being able to advocate and write about policy or specific demands, you'll only ever get so far.
The second aspect of access is journals. If you're a small school from Nebraska, there's a decent chance you can't access one of the thousand articles people have cited from behind a paywall. A great example of this was round 7 of Glenbrooks last year where MBA GH read a miscut card from Paperson that concluded NEG but they didn't include that part of the paragraph in their card. The book was 20$ so if someone was going to call them out for this, they would have to shell out a ton of money for a single round. While this definitely occurs in policy rounds, the frequency of such occurrences are lower. On a similar note, the fact that more K teams either don't use the wiki or are purposefully opaque in what their argument is (I know I was), crushes the ability for anyone to meaningfully clash. Strategies like removing tags, having incomplete citations, or misdisclosing are practices almost exclusively held by K teams. It's not transgressive; it hurts everyone's ability to engage which is allegedly what critical AFFs say is soooooo important.
Teams on framework who say the AFF can always shift to something unpredictable miss the point: the majority of teams reading critical AFFs aren't doing it to be strategic, it's because they're lazy. Compare the amount of work necessary to write a policy AFF to writing a critical AFF. To write a good policy AFF, you need a solvency advocate, a variety of internal links, add ons, a diversity of impacts, answers to every DA (plan un/popular, link turns, impact turns), counterplans, researching topicality and discussions around your plantext -- and from there it's barely readable. For a decent critical AFF, you need one or two good books or theory articles about the topic. a framework, cap, and wilderson block, then you're set -- sometimes you can just reuse the framework block from your last AFF. In High School, the AFF I wrote with the highest win percentage was a collection of the greatest hits of framework impact turns and it took under a half hour to write. Concessionary ground isn't a platitude, it's a way of life. If you write your critical AFF to encourage clash, you're guaranteed to lose. The less you link to, the better off you'll be. While this is obviously a problem in policy debate (Peninsula TW), those cases are an exception, not the rule. The obvious answer to this is, "go for the impact turn!!!! Debates about capitalism and wilderson or whatever are good!!!!" and if the words "no link -- not our xyz" have ever crossed your lips you can sit down and shut up. The reason every critical debate devolves to the permutation is because debate distorts theory to fit a competitive framework that it doesn't belong. Ask any Marxist if they think Black women should never talk about intersectionality -- anyone but the most orthodox followers would look at you in confusion. Why? Because academia is almost never as ideological as debate implies. The choice authors we've picked to discuss (Agamben, Baudrillard, Wilderson) are at the fringes of the field because their views aren't conducive to any practical action or movement. Critical debate necessitates the most radical and outlandish positions because anything else would not operate in the set up of our game.
When people say "well debating about nuclear war and spreading isn't applicable to every day life either!!!" they're not wrong, but they've missed the point. K debate and its progression to long overviews, complicated jargon, and convoluted internal disads unsettles the most important aspect of clash. It's much easier to beat your opponent on how their neglect of the ontological condition of ideological state apparati distort their knowledge production than an in depth discussion about PCLOB's efficacy. I should know, I debated in a UDL and won plenty of rounds by going one off with a Frankenstein of a K but that doesn't mean its useful or educational. Alternatively, policy debate permits complex discussions without falling into the trap of no longer applying to the real world. Arguments like Dedev or Trade Bad seem silly, but to argue against or for effectively, one needs to have a handle on economic cycles of growth which is actually portable knowledge. On the flip side, I've never needed to know the difference between necro and bio politics in any job I've interviewed for but every economics job I've interviewed, I've used dedev as an example of how debate taught me to research diverse economic thought, even if I didn't buy into it.
As a concluding thought: I've coached and read critiques and will continue to do so because that is the irreversible direction that debate is moving. Anyone who's followed academic and philosophical trends will realize that there is never any problem where the answer hasn't been "the answer's a little more complicated than just A or B." With that, there is a certain humility that it takes to acknowledge when something you've done and you've participated in isn't always the best. And it takes a big person to refuse to unquestionably follow one thing or another. The above could have just been my old 2AC to framework and it would have angered just as many people (unclear though given the pro-k bias on this site) but having and defending alternative perspectives is the point of debate.