There were few voiced objections. Tommie Smith had gone on record as saying that if the majority voted to boycott, he would, too, and that seemed to be the spirit that prevailed. Lew Alcindor voted for it, although the next day at a press conference he seemed uncertain of his position. He said then that he had yet to decide what he would do but added, "If you live in a racist society, you have to react—and this is my way of reacting. We don't catch hell because we are Christians. We catch hell because we are black."
Yet the arguments and the vote did not appear strong enough or loud enough in the days following the meeting to gain the unanimous support that Smith, for one, had hoped for. Ralph Boston, Olympic champion and world record holder in the broad jump, said, "What boycott? I've put too much time and effort into track and field to give it up. If I felt there was sufficient reason I would boycott, but I don't even know what the reason is. At least Negroes have this much: we can compete in amateur sports and we can represent ourselves and then the country."
Triple Jumper Art Walker, who is America's best in that event, said, "I believe every person has to do what his conscience tells him to do. Mine tells me to go to the Olympics."
Former Olympians like Bob Hayes, Rafer Johnson and Jesse Owens spoke out against the decision, too, though white hurdler Richmond Flowers of Tennessee said, "It's their right. As long as they want to do it, I guess they can."
When Evans left Smith's apartment in San Jose two nights before the meeting, optimism was in their eyes. In Los Angeles, as the workshop ended, they stood together looking at the people milling around. Only moments before, the boycott had been roaringly approved, but now that it had been decided the faces of these two superb athletes, the ones who had most to sacrifice personally, seemed drawn and tired. Their eyes were shallow, devoid of any sign of joy or elation. Smith looked wearily around the hall and said softly to Evans, "All I hope is that this does some good, that it doesn't create any chaos."