ARMANDO PEREZ' FIRST love was basketball, not music. The artist better known as Pitbull credits hoops with keeping him in school and off the streets of Miami's Little Havana. So when he helped create a charter school in his hometown earlier this year, he lobbied to lend the curriculum a sports bent. The Sports Leadership & Management (SLAM!) Charter Middle/High School opened its doors in August to 800 students; 4,000 more are on the waiting list. The curriculum's elective offerings focus on sports broadcasting, marketing and sports medicine, and athletics are infused into courses like math, where students play fantasy football to learn statistics and strategic thinking. "My mom taught me that with certain subjects, it may not be that you don't understand it, you're just bored," Pitbull says. "Tap into what these kids want to do and they won't want to leave."