But it is still cricket that grabs eyeballs, raises passions and brings in the big bucks in India, and also where the juxtaposition of business and politics in sport is most apparent.
Modi, scion of a wealthy industrialist family with ties to politicians and Bollywood stars, has cemented India's position as the game's new commercial hub with the multi-million dollar IPL.
While traditionalists choked on their tea at the IPL games, with their carnival atmosphere, designer uniforms, slick cheerleaders and after parties, big global and local sponsors and new converts, including women and youngsters, cheered.
"From a global perspective he's a gamechanger, the man who has single-handedly transformed cricket in the space of two years," said Jayaditya Gupta, executive editor of ESPNcricinfo.
"What he's done for Indian cricket is less well-defined, but one thing is clear: He's made India the centre of the global cricket economy and (the Indian board) the most powerful cricket organisation. Every other cricket board dances to our tune."
But as with other areas in India where business and politics mix, there is controversy here, too: Last year, Modi went toe-to-toe with Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram when the IPL schedule clashed with the national election.
Image: Lalit Modi and Ravi Shastri during IPL II in South Africa
India v SA: Those unforgettable moments | Full Coverage