But where does this leave the negative side? Seemingly, the only course of action is to find newer and better evidence to take down the time built case of the Affirmative team. Suddenly it's a research war, who has the most recent card of evidence? (...)
They're forgetting about the clash of minds and the split-second critical thinking that makes debaters stand out above the general population. Rather debate seems to have been derailed into a state of drones surfing the web looking for the most recent articles, minds made lazy by the lack of surprise and the lack of need to think on the spot.
There are only two ways to win on negative against affirmatives that win consistently:
1. Run the same arguments that everyone else is running, better than everyone else.
2. Run different arguments than everyone else.
This problem lies not with openness but with the negatives who are taught to be mindless drones who don't think on the spot. NCFCA (and probably Stoa) clubs routinely discourage creativity in argumentation.
I know for a fact that some coaches (including one who is popular and teaches camps) teach static theory and essentially force debaters to use their paradigms, which is a terrible foundation for developing a creative debater. Debaters become hesitant to venture into new territory whenever they're used to treating theory - the structure of debate - as a stable, inanimate thing that you can't mold and form. Debaters need to feel free to try things out and experiment - even in tournament rounds.
Most coaches teach delivery, presentation, and rebuttal of arguments; precious few coaches and clubs are teaching how to construct arguments. I don't know anyone who has run practice rounds without evidence in the past few years and you'd be hard pressed to find people teaching theory as something more than a set of facts.
My finest negative round was in quarters at DFW 2011. Aff ran a case that was ever-so-slightly altered (thanks to feedback they had received, I'm sure) such that it delinked 95% of our brief. We won with a counterplan on a sticky note written in the final 30 seconds of prep time. I know of only one or two top teams who could do such a thing anymore even though they're far better speakers - it's just not something they're taught.