When i started shooting events just 1 week after i get my camera, I too had to use auto mode. Course i still not used to changing speed and aperature. Have not even get use to the camera, i have to learn to use flash. So end up switch auto and ttl then just focus on get the angle and composition correct!
There's always smthing to learn even if u go auto mode. The only waste is your shutter have life, you wanna spend that life using M mode, if u use the life on A mode, its a waste of the camera's potential already.
Using the D80 too!, Use manual and explore the in-cam editing function. Save my ass all the time.