In First Corinthians 9:24-25 the Apostle Paul wrote, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown."
In the first century the first place trophy for a sporting competition was often a simple wreath, such as that shown in this mosiac from Pompeii. The wreath's freshness would quickly fade away. Yet its temporary glory was often enough to motivate the athlete to success.