Do you think the overall quality of speech and debate has gone up or down over the years?
This is probably best to look at on a category-category basis.
I think some have gotten much better, but I don't know if they all have.
I think extemp is certainly of a higher calibur now. From what I've heard about and seen (old tapes), extempers today use many more sources (and better ones as well). Plus, rate today is much better than past years, when people generally used much slower styles to avoid fluency goofs.
Meanwhile, my debate friends tell me that LD is getting worse. They say it is evolving into a second policy. Not to hold anything against policy, but the values at stake here often get lost in the now numerous evidences and swifter reading.
What do you think about your/any category?